I have been doing EEG neurofeedback work since January of this year. Essentially, neurofeedback is the algorithmic conditioning of the autonomic electrical processing of the brain. Information is extracted from the brain by means of EEG recording and analysis. This reveals various frequencies of brain waves and their amplitude. Decisions to interact with the electrical output of the brain are made on the basis of particular models of consciousness and the brain. Electrical impulses are fed back into the brain, which alter the electrical processes of the brain and result in a state change.
The theory is illuminating and descriptive of the experimental verifiability of brain waves and their relationship to mental states. Various levels of consciousness are revealed by characteristic wave frequencies. These impulses are recorded by means of an EEG machine, which measures electrical output from sensors connected to wires attached to specific areas of the head.
And all the while, my friend, the Doctor of Psychology, is taking readings of the waveforms emanating from my brain and plotting them with graphs and instruments of science…studying them, analyzing them for clues to that ultimate secret of the universe – the secret of consciousness.
During the course of the neurofeedback session, decisions are made to cause the brainwaves to change. Stimulation is applied. Feedback happens…and the relaxation response occurs.
It is not simple to describe what I am feeling during these sessions. I am using my mind to imagine my mind. I sometimes think about a skull-sized bowl of the most complex material the universe has produced in its 14-billion-year history. This intermediate biological state of matter, which seems to appear as something between a solid and a liquid, vibrates in intelligent response to stimulation from its environment. Ripples of electrochemical energy course one way and then another almost instantaneously in response to both internal and external stimulation. Or I imagine a clear pool of water into which complex and unique patterns of pebbles are dropped in sequences of staccato time…
I imagine, as well, something changing inside of me as a result of this work. I am not quite sure what that is. But to have access to a tool which can, quite literally, change my mind is to be assured of one thing that has always been very important to me: I am continuing to choose to take conscious action in guiding my own creative evolution.
Image: “This is My Mind 040810,” by Tullio DeSantis, acrylic on paper, 22” x 30“, 2010, (detail).
YouTube Video: Columbia Neurofeedback Center News Story with Dr. Jeff Tarrant